Bid to allow abortion in fatal abnormality cases

A group of cross-party TDs and senators plans to table an amendment to proposed abortion legislation which would allow for terminations in cases of fatal foetal abnormalities.

At a meeting in Leinster House this week, women told politicians of their experiences carrying their babies home in boxes from England — where they had terminations — when they had no chance of survival outside the womb.

Under current Irish law, women have to carry a foetus even if it will not live beyond delivery. These circumstances are not included in proposed laws allowing for abortion in limited circumstances because, according to the Government, it would be in breach of the constitutional protection of the right to life of the unborn.

However, the Terminations for Medical Reasons group, which met with parliamentarians this week — said it has legal advice that including fatal foetal abnormalities as grounds for abortion is constitutional.

“We believe it is possible within the framework of the Constitution to legislate for this because the conditions we are talking about are incompatible with life, and therefore we think it doesn’t conflict with the Constitution,” said United Left Alliance TD Richard Boyd Barrett, who chaired the meeting.

He revealed during the meeting that he had lost a baby girl shortly after her birth in 2002. He said the fatal condition in those circumstances was not diagnosed during the pregnancy, but “one thing that myself and my ex-partner were absolutely clear about at the time in this awful situation was that if we had have known, we would certainly have wanted to have had that choice”.

He said: “What choice we would have made is another matter. In a situation like that, there is no good option. But we would have wanted to have had the choice.”

He, along with a number of independent TDs and possibly some from the Government benches, will put together an amendment once the full version of the Protection of Life during Pregnancy Bill is published.

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